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After a Heart Attack

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Cardiac Rehab

Many hospitals have a rehabilitation program that you can participate in as an outpatient. Or your doctor may refer you to a heart center that runs a cardiac rehabilitation program. Taking part in a program offers several important benefits:

  • It will help speed up your recovery.
  • You will work with people who specialize in heart health. They will show you ways to make positive changes in your life that can protect and strengthen your heart.
  • You'll take part in activities that improve the way your heart functions and reduce your heart rate.
  • By following through outside of rehab on what you learn, you'll reduce your chance of developing complications or dying from heart disease.

Most cardiac rehab programs consist of three parts:

  • Exercise led by a certified exercise specialist.
  • Classes to teach you about risk factors for heart disease and ways to reduce those risks.
  • Support for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

Making Changes to Reduce Heart Risk

Make these changes to help reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Manage diabetes and obesity.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Become more active.

Read on for some specific advice on how to make those changes.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do -- not just for your heart but for your entire system -- is to stop. It's also one of the hardest changes to make. But your doctor can help. Ask your doctor about:

  • A plan and guidance for giving up smoking.
  • Alternatives to tobacco, such as nicotine gum, patches, and prescription medicines.
  • Support groups and programs designed to help people quit.
  • Resources either in print or online that you can use to bolster your efforts.

Just because you've tried before doesn't mean you can't quit now. Most people have to quit a number of times before they quit for good.

It's important to insist that people not smoke in your home. And try to avoid places where smokers gather. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for heart disease.

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